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  • But I’ve Got OvidA Duck, Miami, and the Fantasy Life
  • Jane Alison (bio) and
    Illustration by MARC ASPINALL

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[End Page 98]

After thirty years of disaster with men and fresh from a spanking-new heartbreak, I’m back in Miami, back in my dilapidated condo in paradise, to decide if it’s time to retire from love.

Even my mother thinks I should. When I called to tell her of the latest disaster, she sighed and said, Maybe, darling, you should give up on all that. Maybe it’s just time.

Okay, I’ve got other loves, after all. My broken-down mother. My blind old cat. A love poet who’s been dead two thousand years whose words I’m being paid to translate. A friend or two via text.

Who needs more?

Every morning I arise full of vim, crawl around wiping up Buster’s puddles, slip thyroid and seizure pills into his food, and re-diaper his skinny black haunches. Then I put on my faded polka-dot bikini and ride the elevator down twenty-one floors to swim twenty laps in the hourglass pool, ride back up, translate thirty lines of Latin, ride back down to walk three miles, then drink a solo toast or two to chalk up another day done.

Living in paradise: That’s me!

The air rolls in molten waves over your skin when you slide open the balcony door and dip out a hand, glass and tiles so hot they hurt. But how could your heart not flood with joy when you go out to walk on the blistering pink concrete and behold the hot white sky and hot green grass and flowers so red they flame your eyes and all that milky-green water?

I’ve found that if I put off the day’s walk until the last hour before sunset and carry a palm frond angled right, I can ward off the worst of the sun’s late rays that are bent on age-mottling my chest. And if I angle it higher I can also avoid the looks of those walking past who are amused by my freakishness. Why be in Miami if I don’t like the sun?

Yeah, well. Some of us just washed up where we did after random travels concerning men. Providence, Washington, Deutschland.

As I walked toward the sunset this evening, those men bobbed around in my head. Lurch, Eclipse-Eye, the Devil, Sir Gold. Also, a husband.

Gone, gone!

Erotic love: what a concept.

I walked along the Venetian Causeway toward the drawbridge, milky green swells of the bay all around. Young people displayed their lovely bright or dark flesh as they ran, cycled, or skated past. The man whose arms and chest are dense with blue tattoos ran by; he had earbuds in and panted too violently: couldn’t hear how loud he was, I guess. A woman jogged past in super-short shorts, with model legs and designer breasts and braided black hair that swung like beads. A man peddled near and wobbled wild when he got to her, yowling at her behind.

Yo mami mami mami!



Looked down at my own legs and realized that I don’t live anywhere near the zone of that woman anymore. [End Page 99]

Yet once upon a time, when I was maybe fifteen, I didn’t even want to be seen by anyone, and all the same, out I walked, and honks, shouts, maybe even a crash as I passed!

Now, not so much.

I walked on toward the sunset, counting steps. I understand that counting’s a symptom of something, but why should knowing this stop me? The number of steps, boats, balconies, strokes, men, lines of Latin, pages.

Also, I suddenly thought, days since I’ve had sex.

Doesn’t matter if your mind ponders retiring from love: Mr. Body still makes trouble.

Thirty-two days is the answer. Since Sir Gold shattered my heart.

I doubt solitary pleasuring counts as sex.

What about atrophy? Does it count against that?

A word my mother whispered to...


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pp. 98-110
Launched on MUSE
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